A great new find

Saturday evening's concert in Swansea held a great new find for me. I like it when that happens, when a piece of music you've never heard before, by a composer whose name rings only the faintest of bells, really grabs your imagination.

Miklós Rósza's Three Hungarian Sketches was the first work on our programme (under the baton of conductor Roberto Minczuk). I don't know what it was, but it made me want to smile, to tap my feet, to really get carried away with it. It wasn't a work of great symbolic meaning, or a work that attempted to plumb the depths of the human experience, or anything like that. It was simply, in my opinion, a good piece of music.

The work begins with a brisk capriccio movement, followed by a pastorale and a final frenzy of a danza. If Hungarian music were to be scored for the big screen, this is how it would sound. The viola section features quite prominently throughout; every good work should have at least one big viola moment and this had several.

I don't think you need to be able to give an exact analytical answer as to why a work impresses itself upon you. It doesn't have to be some academically sophisticated work; I find myself every bit as engaged by beautiful folk music as I do by something like Berg's Violin Concerto (incidentally, one of my favourites, just in case you wanted to know). Perhaps that is the great power of music - the power to without reason be able to create a connection on some wordless level with the listener/performer. I think that is the difference between music that will stand the test of time and that which falls by the wayside.

My father loves old films. The big biblical epics of the 1950s and 1960s like King Of Kings and Ben-Hur are right up his street. He can't read music, but loves it and has always commented on how great the scores in these old epics are. It turns out that Miklós Rósza was the composer of these scores, among many, many others.

Rósza's music seems to be having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, with a new generation rediscovering not just his film scores, but also his other works. British violist Lawrence Power recorded Rósza's Viola Concerto in 2010 for the Hyperion label and his string quartets and trio have been creeping up on recital programmes with growing frequency over the last few years too. I for one will definitely be investigating further.

This week the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will perform music from Doctor Who in two very special concerts. On Friday, our Sacher Series collaboration with Cardiff University continues. The programme for Friday's concert is really exciting. Music by Martin, Lutosławski, Stravinsky and Honegger may be a little outside of your comfort zones, but come along - you never know which work could surprise you.

For tickets to Friday's Sacher Perspectives concert, at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, call the orchestra's Audience Line on 0800 052 1812.


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